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Church Actually: Rediscovering the Brilliance of God's Plan - Gerard Kelly

(Monarch, £8.99 ISBN 978-0857212313)

In his latest offering, Christian writer and leader Gerard Kelly strives to tackle that difficult question about where the responsibility of a church should lie. Is it primarily inward – to its members – outward, or a marriage of the two?

Kelly admirably grapples with this question throughout this book. He starts by suggesting that the Church has lost some of its past vigour and zeal when it comes to mission.  

Despite a tendency to generalise about ‘crumbling old cathedrals’ across Europe who now offer nothing to the next generation of young people in the way of vibrant Christian witness and mission, the author makes a valid point.  

Few would argue that churches need to be more focused and willing to engage in communities, locally and globally, to ensure that an entire generation is not prevented from hearing the clear message of the gospel.  

Gerard Kelly tries to get the urgency of this responsibility across through his book and focuses on a different scriptural passage in each chapter, in an attempt to emphasise the importance of reinvigorating churches across Europe.

The book may have benefited from having a few more scriptural references embedded in each chapter's argument to support claims made by the author. Indeed, while the content of the book was engaging and inspiring, there was the tendency to over-adorn each chapter with words and metaphors when fewer or shorter chapters might have resulted in a clearer and more focused ultimate message.

Nonetheless, Church Actually is an interesting read which certainly tackles the important issue of finding a balance between inward and outward missional focus for a gathering of Christians.  

The conclusion Kelly reaches is a convincing one, that churches should be an ‘explosion of joy’ and that this faith and joy celebrated by its members should naturally spark a committed and outgoing passion to share the gospel.   

Alistair Shand

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